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7 Budget-Friendly Substitutes for Europe's Top Cities

Posted: 10/02/11 10:49 AM ET

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How many times have you embarked on a trip with a strict budget? You book your flight with miles, plan your itinerary ahead to avoid impromptu purchases, and even take your full budget out of the ATM and pay for everything with cash so you know just how much you've spent. Then you watch solemnly as that budget flies right out the window on day two and you've officially entered splurge territory.



The good news is that there are fantastic budget-friendly alternatives to most of Europe's most travel-worthy, but wallet-thinning cities. Can't really afford a Paris jaunt? Why not book a weekend in Montreal? You'll still have the chance to get tripped up by a language barrier, walk cobblestoned streets, and take pictures of the Notre Dame (Basilica). Yearning for the sumptuous cuisine and history of Florence? Spend less by booking a flight for Lisbon instead, where delectable dishes and stunning architecture abound. There is also the added bonus of venturing to a locale not as oft-traveled as its pricier counterpart.



Feel like indulging in the island life? Ibiza is one of the world's best known party spots, but that means peak prices and early bookings unless you spring for nearby Mallorca -- also off the coast of Spain. There may be less techno music, but white-sand beaches, fabulous people watching, and mouth-watering cuisine are all on offer at a fraction of the cost.



Ultimately, nothing can replace the real thing, but just because you've caught the travel bug, don't fret - your budget won't start deteriorating as soon as you take those vacation days. Feel that familiar rush of immersing yourself in a new place, culture, and cuisine in these substitute cities that definitely don't disappoint.



- Nicole Campoy-Leffler, The Daily Meal (Research by Leora Novick)



Notes: All approx. prices are averages based on a search for one week in October and are subject to change.

Restaurants and hotels are all comparable for their respective cities.


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Splurge: London
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There are more than enough reasons to justify a grand splurge on a trip to London. One of the most dynamic and diverting (and most expensive) cities in Europe, it boasts much-lauded restaurants, fantastic hotels, great weekend markets to stroll through, and buzzed-about shopping. And even though travelers can enter museums and gorgeous parks for free, most of these activities come at a premium. It doesn't help that the British pound is no friend of the American dollar.



Flight from JFK: $800/person
5-star hotel: $375/night
High-end restaurant: $40/entrée;
Single fare subway ride: $3-$6
Exchange rate: $1.50 to 1BPS



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